DNN: the best choice for a member’s portal (and our new website!)

DateApril 2021

Author: Mark Humpreys, Head of UX, Silverbear 

When creating the new Silverbear.com website, we encountered the same question that every member organisation needs to decide: which CMS should we use in order to display information clearly and concisely to our users. In the end, we decided to use DNN, the same platform we used to build Silverbear’s members’ portal. Ultimately, it all boiled down to one word: Flexibility.

Flexibility to allow us to implement the designs - absolutely, as DotNetNuke (DNN) skins are standard HTML/CSS/JavaScript with custom tags to enable ‘Content Panes’ to be defined (where modules containing content can be dropped through the front end) and tags for dynamic content (Navigation, Authentication, Breadcrumbs, amongst many more).  We were able to mirror designs incredibly easily, whilst still enabling less technical members of our team to update content.

Flexibility to enable distinct areas of the site to be laid out differently and display the content modules separately from each other. DNN provides you with many individual page layouts, inside the master layout (sharing assets – CSS, JS, Imagery, Iconography) between the different layouts.  Yet at the same time enabling us to have a totally different look and feel on the contact page to the standard content pages.

Flexibility to use over a thousand pre-built modules on the DNN Store to add increased functionality that Silverbear365 doesn’t offer.  For Silverbear.com, we’ve used Easy DNN News to display our news items which have their own template features enabling us to display our news items exactly how we’d envisioned.  Whilst this provided a fantastic user experience on the front end it also allowed people to add items with no technical know-how.

Flexibility to add entirely custom Containers (the DNN parlance for individual module wrappers).  This enabled us to create the beautiful hero images you’ll see on each page and still allowing normal administrators to add the content through a ‘WYSIWYG’ (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) editor that anyone who’s previously used Microsoft Office products can quickly and easily get up to speed with.

Flexibility to display different content to different types of users via the in-built permissions feature. With this feature, we can show/hide pages and individual modules to the currently logged-in user, based on the roles that the user has. Meaning two different users can see completely different page content solely based on the user roles that are assigned to them.

This is without mentioning all the benefits Silverbear365 offers – incredibly powerful tools such as the FetchXML Viewer (which allows us to display data live from CRM for the logged-in user), and Formbuilder (enabling the quick and easy creation of forms that can read from and write back to that user in CRM). Although within Silverbear. com phase one we focused entirely on the public and only allowed internal administrators to log in, plans are afoot for phase 2 where our customers will also be able to log in to view pertinent information and webinar recordings.

In short, DNN is an incredibly fully-featured CMS that provides so many benefits I’ve barely scratched the surface here. But suffice to say if we were to kick off our own website project again tomorrow, we’d absolutely choose the same technology.




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